January 18, 2008

CD Review: Pig Destroyer - Phantom Limb

You have to admit, Pig Destroyer is a hell of a band name. The name brings up images of violence and weight. That pretty much sums up the sound of Pig Destroyer. The music stirs up violent feelings while it proceeds to crush anything and everything in its path. Now, this is not to say it is good, but it does not say it is bad either. If anything, Pig Destroyer is aiming themselves squarely at one subset of music fans, and to that end they deliver. This is clearly not for everyone, I am not sure it is even for me. The band is encompassed by the label of “grindcore,” a subgenre that contains elements of hardcore, punk, death, black, and thrash metal resulting in a dissonant sound that is driven by growled/screamed vocals, blast beats, and down-tuned and heavily distorted guitars. That description sounds like a lot of other metal subgenres, and could possibly be attached to metal itself. I guess the only way to know grindcore is to recognize it. I am not a big fan of this particular genre, but there are always bands willing to welcome in new victims.

Phantom Limb is Pig Destroyer's fourth album and first since 2004's Terrifyer. It also happens to be my first introduction to their particular brand of mayhem. I must say that while there are moments that I really like, I do not think that Pig Destroyer is going to be a band I come back to all that often. I get the feeling that grindcore is a genre best experienced in small doses.

As I began listening to Phantom Limb there was one word that kept running through my mind. That all-important word was, and still is: exhausting. That puts a direct capper on this music. It is fast, heavy, intense, and relentless. I can imagine as live performance leaving the Red Bull fueled teens spent and wasted in under five minutes. Likewise, the at home listener is likely to be left struggling for breath in an attempt to keep up. I know that my jaw dropped when it began.

If you take the time to listen to JR Hayes processed growls and screams, you can follow a story throught the album. Listen as the story of a man as he loses his girlfriend, digs her up, cuts off her hand and attempts to have a relationship with the severed limb. When this does not work, he winds up taking his own life. Pretty morbid and disturbing stuff if you ask me, and I know you didn't. I only learned of the story arc as I read through the lyrics, prior to that I had no idea what he was saying.

Musically, the band is pretty tight, with sharp production quality keeping this speeding grindcore locomotive from flying of the tracks, something it threatens to do at every turn. Despite this focus towards the finished product, I could not get into everything they offer. I was only able to enjoy short segments. I guess the best thing that I could say would be that the brief thirty minute runtime ensures that it does not overstay its welcome. Any longer and it would jump from being exhausting to being tiresome.

Unless you are a fan of the band or the genre, I suspect that you will not get a lot out of this release. However, if you are a fan, expect to find a new and explosive dose of grind to satiate your need.

For the curious, allow me to boil the album down to the bare essential cuts that you should focus on. The songs to flock to are: "Thought Crime Spree," "Loathsome," "Heathen Temple," "Alexandria," and "The Machete Twins."

Bottomline. I will always be willing to give different music a shot, but I am thinking that grindcore is not really for me. This is not a bad album by any stretch, but it only grabbed me once in awhile. it did not capture my attention like Cephalic Carnage's Xenosapien did.

Mildly Recommended.


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